Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WEST)


    In News

    • Recently, a new I-STEM (Indian Science Technology and Engineering facilities Map) initiative called “Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WEST)” was launched.

    Key Points

    • Empowering Women: The WEST programme will cater to women with a STEM background and empower them to contribute to the science, technology, and innovation ecosystem. 
    • Separate platform to scientifically inclined women: Through the WEST initiative, I-STEM shall provide a separate platform to scientifically inclined women researchers, scientists, and technologists for pursuing research in basic or applied sciences in frontier areas of science and engineering. 
    • Skill Development: The Skill Development programmes under the WEST initiative will provide training for women with S&T backgrounds to brush up on their abilities and become engaged “in the field” as lab technicians and maintenance engineers, filling crucial gaps in the R&D infrastructure of the country. 
    • Opportunities: 
      • Women may join the WEST program and explore opportunities to become stakeholders in various domains and pursue careers in R&D at various levels: 
        • technicians, 
        • technologists, 
        • scientists, and 
        • entrepreneurs. 
      • Opportunities range from operating scientific equipment and maintaining them, to designing and manufacturing them.
      • Women can become entrepreneurs to serve as consultants for the operation and maintenance of sophisticated equipment/instruments through the I-STEM platform. 
    • Dedicated Team: A dedicated team of women will ensure the successful implementation of the WEST initiative.
    • Strong Support Network: The access to R&D facilities and R&D software platforms (COMSOL, MATLAB, LABVIEW, AUTOCAD) available through the I-STEM portal will form a strong support network for women entrepreneurs in S&T.


    Significance for WEST

    • Addressing Underrepresentation of Women: The country’s competent female labor force will be fully utilized to make the historical underrepresentation of women in these disciplines fade away.
    • Bridging Skill Gap: This would go a long way towards filling a “skills gap”, and putting publicly-funded equipment to good use.
    • Bringing Women to S&T Domains: This initiative will also help bring women back into S&T domains after a career break. Under the WEST initiative, the current support being provided to S&T startups by women entrepreneurs by I-STEM will be enhanced.
    • Reducing Gender Wage Gap: Granting women equal chances would not only help close the gender wage gap in the profession but also improve their economic stability and well-being.

    About Indian Science, Technology and Engineering facilities Map (I-STEM) 

    • I-STEM is a dynamic and interactive national portal, which hosts various scientific programs.
    • Initiated by:  the office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India. 
    • It is the umbrella under which many programmes for promoting collaborations in R&D and technological innovation among and between academia and industry, especially startups, are underway.
    • I-STEM shall provide a platform/forum for women researchers to deliberate on achievements, issues, and exchange ideas on taking the country forward through advances in science, technology, and innovation. 
    • In addition, a digital consortium “Connect Quickly” for online discussion and immediate support has also been established through the I-STEM WhatsApp and Telegram platforms.

    Way Ahead

    • Given the importance of technology in future growth and innovation, strategies targeted at training and keeping women in engineering, science, and technology (WEST) fields must be promoted.
    • More participation of women on I-STEM is the need of hour. 
    • I-STEM needs to monitor the impact of the initiative by obtaining feedback and putting steps in place to increase the wider participation of women in WEST and I-STEM.

    Source: PIB